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L'ENVOI

CHAPTER XXI

L'ENVOI

   THE factory has taken us up on an exceedinglyhigh mountain and shown us all the great cities of the world, and the riches withinthem.

   "All these things are yours," the factorysays,, "on condition only that you bow down and serve me. Abandon strange anddangerous ideas of your own. Think only of my greater glory. Sink your initiativeand your individuality in the conventions that sustain me, and riches beyond thewildest dreams of Creoesus shall be yours and your children's."

   Thus has the factory tempted us. And thus hasit enlisted most of us in its service.

   Mercifully, most of us are unconscious of thefact that we have given up our birthrights for a mess of pottage.

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   This is my story.

   Why have I told it? With any hope that the massesof men will try the road to comfort along which I have been travelling?

   No.

   Men may be shown the way to comfort.

   But they not only lack the will to achieve comfort;they lack even the desire to attain it.

   They are the slaves of habits-habits fastenedupon them by the unending repetitions of the work they do; by the universal pressureto conform to what their fellows expect of them; by the concentrated energy theyput into living the kind of life to which they are predisposed by a conventionalenvironment.

   Conventional educations, conventional occupations,conventional experiences, make it difficult for them to be unconventional in thoughtand almost impossible for them to be unconventional in action.

   They are afraid of the economic, social, mental,physical struggle which the adoption of new values is certain to entail.

   Above all, they are afraid of abandoning valueswhich they have come to know, for values for which they yearn, but which they donot know.

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   The quest of comfort and understanding is anadventure. It is, a high adventure; a dangerous adventure; an adventure in the transvaluationof values.

   It is an adventure for freemen, and not for automatons;for skeptical individuals, and not for credulous souls.

   It is an adventure essential to sensitive non-conformists.

   Unfortunately, our factory-dominated civilizationseems to have made most of us incurably conventional.

   Most of us have become anaesthetized againstthe factory and the ugliness, drabness, sordidness of the civilization in which ithas enmeshed us.

   Most of us have come to accept the standardsthis civilization imposes upon us.

   Most of us are afraid even to consider changingthem.

   That any considerable number of those who securethe wherewithal to live by serving the factory and who subsist upon what the factorysupplies them, should undertake the conquest of comfort would be a miracle.

   Why then have I spent all this time to tell thestory of my quest for comfort? First,

Because a cold rage seizes one at whiles
To show the bitter, old and wrinkled truth
Stripped naked of all vesture that beguiles,
False dreams, false hopes, false masks and modes of youth;
Because it gives some sense of power and passion
In helpless impotence to try to fashion
Our woe in living words howe'er uncouth.

   And secondly, again in the words of the selfsamepoet: that

--here and there some weary wanderer
In that same city of tremendous night,
Will understand the speech, and feel a stir
Of fellowship in all-disastrous fight;
"I suffer mute and lonely, yet another
Uplifts his voice to let me know a brother
Travels the same wild paths though out of sight." 49

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   And so good-bye.

   You probably will continue as before. And soshall 1.

   But I, at least, am free to continue the questof comfort on my own small domain--mine as long as I can scrape together the taxes,which the state levies upon it.

   I, at least, have the opportunity to work outa manner of living for myself without regard to the life that landlords, tradesmen,and manufacturers would impose upon me.

   I, at least, can say to the factory:

   "Get thee hence. I want thy riches not,because I need them not."

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   A comfortable home in which to labor and to play,with trees and grass and flowers and skies and stars; a small garden; a few fruittrees; some fowls, some kine, some bees; and three big dogs to keep the salesmenout--and I, at least, have time for love, for children, for a few friends, and forthe work I like to do.

   More the world can give to no man, and more noman can give the world.

THE END

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